Here, at last, we have the explanation of Saulís strange journey to look for his missing animals. God was sending Saul to Samuel, so that Samuel could appoint him to be Israelís first king.
It would be Saulís task to free his people from the Philistines (the army of Philistia). When Samuel became Israelís judge (leader), the Philistines had suffered a severe defeat (7:10-12). This stopped many of their activities against Israel (7:13). However, after many years, their army had become powerful again. In particular, they were not allowing Israelís workmen to work with metal (13:19-21). This had become a very serious matter; Israelís soldiers did not even have swords (13:22).
Israelís people were desperate. Another army, from Ammon, was preparing to attack Israel (12:12). That was why Israelís leaders had urged Samuel to appoint a king. They wanted to have a powerful ruler who would lead their soldiers in their battles (8:20).
God cared about his people in Israel. He decided to act in order to save them from their enemies. He allowed them to have a king; he chose Saul for this purpose.
Since he was a boy, Samuel had heard the word of God (3:4). He was familiar with the way that God spoke to him (3:21). In 1 Samuel 9:15-17, God spoke twice to Samuel. First, God told Samuel that he was sending a man from Benjamin to him. That man would be the king. Then, God told Samuel that Saul was that man.
Saul did not expect any of these things. It was Samuelís duty not merely to appoint Saul, but also to teach him how he must act as Israelís king.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.